Kelli Grant Group

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices AZ

How To Clean Your Outdoor Gas Grill In Less Than 30 Minutes

Keep a clean grillRegardless of your hometown’s climate, outdoor gas grill cooking can be a four-season endeavor. Just remembe to keep your grill clean.

According to Weber’s annual GrillWatch Survey, less than 40% of grill owners clean their equipment with any bit of frequency, and 6 percent admit they’ve never cleaned their grill at all.

There are three main reasons to keep a clean grill. The first is that a clean, well-maintained grill will have a longer useful life than a dirty, sloppy one. Grills can be expensive and it’s often less costly to maintain them than to replace them.

The second reason to keep a clean grill is for sanitary reasons. Over time — especially when exposed to the elements — a grill’s finish can deteriorate and/or retained cooked foodstuffs. This can create a breeding ground for germs and disease.

And, lastly, a clean grill helps cooked foods taste better.

So, whether you’ve cleaned your equipment recently or never at all, it’s always a good time to freshen up your grill. Here’s how to do it, quickly :

  1. Remove the grates. Soak them in soapy water. Scrub foodstuffs using a wire brush. Allow to dry.
  2. Remove loose debris from bottom of grill.
  3. Using soapy solution, scrub grill’s surfaces, grill pans, and grease trays. Don’t forget the lid.
  4. Clean outside of grill with mild soap solution, treating rust areas with cooking oil.
  5. Look for broken, cracked or faulty equipment, specifically burners and ignitors. Replace as necessary.

Then, as a last step, re-assemble your grill and turn its burners to high for 10 minutes. This will burn off excess water in the grill and help to sanitize it.

Cleaning a gas grill is a 20-30 minute process. The results, however, are long-lasting. 

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April 30, 2012 Posted by | Around The Home | , , | Leave a comment

Pending Home Sales Index Crosses The 100 Barrier

Pending Home Sales 2010-2012

After a series of worse-than-expected data last month, the housing market appears to be back on track.

The Pending Home Sales Index posted 101.4 in March, a four percent gain from the month prior and the index’s highest reading since April 2010 — the last month of that year’s federal home buyer tax credit.

A “pending home” is a home under contract to sell, but not yet closed. The Pending Home Sales Index is tracked and published by the National Association of REALTORS® monthly.

The March report marks the index’s first 100-plus reading in nearly two years.

To home buyers and sellers throughout Arizona , this is statistically significant because the Pending Home Sales Index is normalized to 100, a value corresponding to the average home contract activity in 2001, the index’s first year of existence. 2001 was an historically-strong year for the housing market.

The March 2012 Pending Home Sales Index, therefore, puts current market activity on par with market activity from 2001.

You wouldn’t know it from reading this week’s papers, though. There have been stories about how the Case-Shiller Index put home values at new loans; and how the Existing Home Sales figures unexpectedly dropped off; and how the New Home Sales report was a laggard.

But this is why the Pending Home Sales Index can be so important.

What makes the Pending Home Sales Index different from those other data points is that the Pending Home Sales Index is a “forward-looking” housing market indicator.

Unlike most data which aims to tell us how the housing market performed at some point in the past, the Pending Home Sales Index attempts to tell us how the housing market will perform at some point in the future. 

80% of homes under contract close within 2 months. Many more close within months 3-4. Therefore, on the strength of the March Pending Home Sales Index, we should expect a strong April and May nationwide

If you’re shopping for homes right now, consider taking advantage while the market remains somewhat soft. Mortgage rates are low and home prices are, too. It can make for a good home-buying conditions.

April 27, 2012 Posted by | Housing Analysis | , , | Leave a comment

A Simple Explanation Of The Federal Reserve Statement (April 25, 2012)

Putting the FOMC statement in plain EnglishThe Federal Open Market Committee voted to leave the Fed Funds Rate unchanged within its current target range of 0.000-0.250 percent Wednesday.

For the fifth consecutive month, the Fed Funds Rate vote was nearly unanimous. Just one FOMC member, Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey Lacker, dissented in the 9-1 vote.

The Fed Funds Rate has been near zero percent since December 2008. It is expected to remain near-zero through 2014, at least.

In its press release, the Federal Reserve noted that the U.S. economy has been “expanding moderately” since the FOMC’s last meeting in March. Beyond the next few quarters, the Fed expects growth to “pick up gradually”. 

This key phrase will likely be repeated by the press. It suggests that the economy is no longer contracting; instead moving along a path of slow, consistent expansion.  

In addition, the Fed acknowledged that “strains in global financial markets” continue to pose “significant downside risks” to long-term U.S. economic outlook. This is in reference to the sovereign debt concerns of Greece, Spain and Italy, and the potential for a broader European economic slowdown.

The Fed’s statement included the following notes :

  1. The housing sector remains “depressed”
  2. Labor conditions have “improved in recent months”
  3. Household spending has “continued to advance”

Also, with respect to inflation, the Fed said that the higher oil and gasoline prices from earlier this year will affect inflation “only temporarily”, and that inflation rates will return to stable levels soon.

At its meeting, the Federal Reserve neither introduced new economic stimulus, nor discontinued existing market programs. The Fed re-affirmed its intentions to hold the Fed Funds Rate at “exceptionally low” levels through late-2014, and to buy mortgage-backed bonds in the open market.

Immediately following the FOMC’s statement, mortgage markets improved slightly, pressuring mortgage rates lower in Scottsdale and nationwide.

The FOMC’s next scheduled meeting is a two-day event slated for June 19-20, 2012.

April 25, 2012 Posted by | Federal Reserve | , , | Leave a comment

New Home Sales Revised Higher In February; Slip 7% In March

New Home Sales 2011-2012Sales of new homes ticked lower in March, unexpectedly.

Based on Census Bureau data, the number of new, single-family homes sold in March slipped 7 percent from February — the largest one-month drop in more than a year. 

On a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis, buyers in Arizona and nationwide purchased 328,000 newly-built homes last month. The decrease in sales from February to March can be attributed, in part, though, to a massive upward revision in February’s figures.

Last month, the Census Bureau had reported 313,000 new home sales in February on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis. This month, those sales were re-measured to be 353,000 — an increase of 13 percent.

January’s sales were revised higher, too.

The long-term trend in the market for new homes remains “up”. This is no more apparent than when we look at the available new home inventory.

At the close of March, just 144,000 new homes were available for purchase, down 2,000 from the month prior and representing the most sparse new home housing supply since at least 1993, the year that the Census Bureau starting tracking such data. 

At the current pace of sales, the new home housing stock would be sold out in 5.3 months. A six-month supply is believed to represent a market in balance.

For new home buyers in Phoenix , March’s New Home Sales report does not represent a housing market pull-back. It may represent opportunity, however.

From October 2011 to February 2012, housing data was uniformly strong. Home sales were higher, home supplies were lower, and confidence was rising. In March, it was the reverse. This is normal because growth is rarely linear. 

In any market, it’s a few steps forward and a single step back, and housing is likely showing a similar pattern. With mortgage rates still low and builder confidence down, it’s a terrific time to shop new construction.

There are deals to be found for buyers who seek them out. 

April 25, 2012 Posted by | Housing Analysis | , , | Leave a comment

Are real estate agents becoming obsolete?

No. I came across this question on Quora this morning at 4am when I couldn’t sleep. Real estate is the biggest, most expensive purchase most people make throughout their lives. That purchase is a legal transaction that encompasses a variety of very expensive potentially damaging pitfalls (or jail). Would you trust your spouse to perform surgery on you if he read a how-to manual on webMD?

Real estate is a moving target. Full time, full service agents like myself are proactive in staying educated on changing laws, state and governmental rules & regulations, mortgage and finance changes, the economy, their local marketplace, stats, trends, technology solutions, alternative financing or foreclosure prevention solutions, and understanding new documents or changes in contractual verbiage . . . to name a few!

realtor man handshakeThese professional real estate consultants forge relationships with real estate attorneys, mortgage professionals, home warranty companies, and CPA’s. They attend their workshops to gain enough knowledge to be able to assess a client’s need or situation and SUGGEST a potential solution that they should “call their CPA about” . . . such as using tax code 121 against the phantom gain on a foreclosure when you can’t prove insolvency, (for example). Of course, always with the disclaimer that you are not a CPA or real estate attorney, but that you heard about xyz, and they should seek the advice from xyz…

These valuable agents are resources for trustworthy referrals for the most expensive asset you own, such as painters, electricians, pool companies, landscapers, house cleaners, window washers, etc. These agents coordinate your real estate purchase and communicate with every party, they provide a Moving checklist and follow up with you to ensure you haven’t forgotten anything during a highly emotional and chaotic time. They check in with you throughout the year, every year to see how you are and if you need anything…even if it’s a good roofer or to make sure you’ve renewed your home warranty. These valuable realtors are the guardians of your home.

Much like an attorney, a doctor, a CPA, a dentist, or a financial advisor – an educated, professional realtor is an essential person to establish a long term relationship with. Full time realtors sell real estate day in and day out and are truly experts in the process, procedure, marketing, and negotiation of it. One could try to design their own website by going to WordPress and watching all the YouTube videos, but if you want it designed right and toaccomplish what you need it to (quicker), wouldn’t it be worth it to pay someone who is already trained and skilled at it who does it every day?

You say you want to sell your home on your own, aka FSBO (For Sale By Owner). confused

  • Do you know what your liable for in the sale?
  • Do you know what you are legally obligated to disclose to the buyer?
  • Did you provide the buyer with all of the legally required documentation in case something happens down the road and they try to sue you?
  • Do you have a full fledged marketing plan?
  • Do you know what demographic to market to and how to best market to them?
  • Do you know what incentives to offer to bring in a higher sales price, quicker?
  • Do you have a database of home buyers that you can call and market your property to?
  • Will you spend 4-6 hours a day finding a buyer for your home?
  • Do you know how to stage the home so that it shows it’s best features and makes potential buyers fall in love with it when they walk in the door while they envision themselves living there as they tour the home?

The realtor’s primary value is in their knowledge, education, skills, and service. Data on the internet is not always accurate and a realtor can certainly provide a valuable service in clarifying the facts of what is truly available or what the realistic value of a property is. Shocking tidbit: Zillow’s value of your home isn’t all that accurate! The true value of this part is ASSESSING and INTERPRETING THE DATA through knowledge of market trends, stats, local economy, and demographics.

Realtors who are not full time business owners and consultants to their clients provide much less value, and will probably go out of business. They basically provide you with access into a property. Realtors who do not embrace and learn an ever-changing technologically based society will not survive either.

dollar sign Would you be willing to throw tens of OR hundreds
of thousands of dollars to the wind? $$$

Wouldn’t you want guidance and assistance from a professional representing you and watching out for your best interests?

Stats from National Association of Realtor’s 2011 Home Buyers & Seller’s Profile

  • Real estate agents were viewed as a useful information source by 98 percent of buyers who used an agent while searching for a home.
  • Eighty-nine percent of buyers purchased their home through a real estate agent or brokerβ€”a share that has steadily increased from 69 percent in 2001.
  • Eighty-seven percent of sellers were assisted by a real estate agent when selling their home.
  • The typical FSBO home sold for $150,000 compared to $215,000 among agent-assisted home sales.

Kelli Grant is a full time, full service realtor. I dedicate 100% of my time delivering World Class Service to my clients. In turn, I depend on the heartfelt endorsement and referral of my valued clients, their friends, family and co-workers to me for advice on buying and selling real estate. I am dedicated to building lasting, lifelong relationships and earning the right to be your REAL ESTATE CONSULTANT FOR LIFE. Call me today to help you buy or sell a home in Phoenix or Scottsdale, Arizona.

April 24, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Fed Starts A 2-Day Meeting Today. Make A Strategy.

Fed Funds Rate vs Mortgage Rates 1990-2012

The Federal Open Market Committee begins a 2-day meeting today in the nation’s capitol. It’s the group’s third of 8 scheduled meetings this year. Mortgage rates are expected to change upon the Fed’s adjournment.

Led by Chairman Ben Bernanke, the FOMC is a 12-person, Federal Reserve sub-committee. The FOMC is the group within the Fed which votes on U.S. monetary policy. “Making monetary policy” can mean a lot of things, and the action for which the FOMC is most well-known is its setting of the Fed Funds Funds.

The Fed Funds Rate is the overnight interest rate at which banks borrow money from each other. It’s one of many interest rates set by the Fed.

However, one series of interest rates not set by the Fed is mortgage rates. Instead, mortgage rates are based on the prices of mortgage-backed bonds and bonds are bought and sold on Wall Street.

There is little historical correlation between the Fed Funds Rate and the common, 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate.

As the chart at top shows, since 1990, the Fed Funds Rate and the 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate have followed different paths. Sometimes, they’ve moved in the same direction. Sometimes, they’ve moved in opposite directions. 

They’ve been separated by as much as 5.29 percent at times, and have been as near to each other as 0.52 percent.

Today, that spread is roughly 3.65 percent. It’s expected to change beginning 12:30 PM ET Wednesday. That’s when the FOMC will adjourn from its meeting and release its public statement to the markets.

The FOMC is expected to announce no change in the Fed Funds Rate, holding the benchmark rate within in its current target range of 0.000-0.250%. However, how mortgage rates in and around Scottsdale respond will depend on the verbiage of the FOMC statement. 

In general, if the Fed acknowledges that the U.S. economy as in expansion; growing from job growth and consumer spending, mortgage rates are expected to rise. If the Fed shows concern about domestic and global economic growth, mortgage rates are expected to fall. 

Any time that mortgage markets are expected to move, a safe play is to stop shopping your rate and start locking it. Today may be one of those times.

April 24, 2012 Posted by | Mortgage Rates | , , | Leave a comment

America’s 20 Best Small Towns

America's Best Small TownsAmerica is stuffed with world-class “big cities”; New York, San Francisco and Chicago make for three great examples. But beyond the biggest cities, there are some wonderful small towns, too.

Smithsonian.com highlights 20 of them on its website.

Focusing on cities with 25,000 residents or fewer, the publication ranked areas high in “culture”; towns with high concentrations of museums, public gardens, art galleries and other cultural assets including resident orchestras. 

The author states “big cities and grand institutions per se don’t produce creative works; individuals do. And being reminded of that is fun”.

The Top 10 Small Towns in America, as judged by Smithsonian.com :

  1. Great Barrington, Massachusetts
  2. Taos, New Mexico
  3. Red Bank, New Jersey
  4. Mill Valley, California
  5. Gig Harbor, Washington
  6. Durango, Colorado
  7. Butler, Pennsylvania
  8. Marfa, Texas
  9. Naples, Florida
  10. Staunton, Virginia

Other notable cities on the list include Princeton, New Jersey; Beckley City, West Virginia; and Siloam Springs, Arkansas.

The Smithsonian.com website provides an in-depth review of each of its twenty listed cities, including historical notes and quotes from key community members. It makes for good reading by local residents and visitors, alike.

Review the complete rankings online.

April 23, 2012 Posted by | Rankings | , , | Leave a comment

Existing Home Sales Slip In March

Existing Home Sales In March, for the second straight month, home resales slipped nationwide.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, March 2012 Existing Home Sales fell to 4.48 million units on a seasonally-adjusted annualized basis — a 3 percent drop from February.

An “existing home” is a home that’s been previously occupied or owned.

The weaker-than-expected Existing Home Sales data is the third such housing report this month to suggest a lull in the spring housing market. Earlier this week, homebuilder confidence slipped for the first time in three months and March Single-Family Housing Starts fell, too.

The news wasn’t entirely bad for home resales, however. Although total home units sold decreased, so did the number of homes available for sale. There were just 2.37 million homes for sale nationwide in March, a 2 percent drop from the month prior.

At the current pace of sales, therefore, the entire nation’s home resale stock would “sell out” in 6.3 months. This is the second-fastest pace since the housing market’s April 2007 peak.  

A 6-month supply is widely believed to represent a market in balance between buyers and sellers.

The March Existing Home Sales data shows that — despite record-low mortgage rates nationwide — buyer activity in Scottsdale is slowing, and seller activity may be slowing, too.

So long as the two forces remain in balance, home prices should do the same. This is the law of Supply and Demand at work. 

However, if home sales continue to slide and home inventory builds, buyers may find themselves with an edge in negotiations. 

If you’re planning to buy a home in 2012, the long-term housing trend is still toward recovery. This season may be a good time to look at your options. Talk to your real estate agent to see what’s available. Low mortgage rates may persist, but low home prices may not.

April 20, 2012 Posted by | Housing Analysis | , , | Leave a comment

Nevada Relinquishes “Top Foreclosure State” Title

Foreclosures March 2012

According to foreclosure-tracking firm RealtyTrac, foreclosure filings fell to 199,000 in March 2012, a 17 percent decrease from March 2011. Last month marks the first time since July 2007 that foreclosure filings numbered less than 200,000 on a monthly basis — a span of nearly 5 years.

The generic term “foreclosure filing” is used to group all types of foreclosure activity into a single reading. It includes default notices, scheduled auctions, and bank repossessions. 

As in most months, foreclosure density varied by region. 6 states accounted for more than half of the nation’s repossessed homes in March.

  • Florida : 13.6 percent of all bank repossessions
  • California : 12.0 percent of all bank repossessions
  • Georgia : 8.0 percent of all bank repossessions
  • Michigan : 7.5 percent of all bank repossessions
  • Arizona : 6.5 percent of all bank repossessions
  • Illinois : 6.4 percent of all bank repossessions

At the other end of the spectrum, North Dakota and Washington, D.C. were home to the fewest bank repossessions, with 0.03% and 0.02% of the national total, respectively.

Also noteworthy is that the RealtyTrac report revealed that Nevada relinquished its title as Top Foreclosure State after 62 consecutive top-ranking months. In March, 1 in every 301 Nevada homes received some form of a foreclosure filing. The March rate was a nation-topping 1 in 300 in neighboring Arizona.

For Phoenix home buyers, today’s foreclosure market represents an interesting opportunity. 

Homes purchased while in the various stages of foreclosure can often be bought at lower prices relative to homes not in foreclosure. It’s one of the reasons why foreclosed homes now account for 20 percent of all home resales

However, don’t confuse less expensive for less costly.

Foreclosed homes are often sold “as-is” and may be in various stages of disrepair. Fixing a foreclosed home to make it habitable could wipe out the money saved on its price tag. Your best real estate “deal”, therefore, may be a non-distressed home in sound, move-in ready condition.

If you’re buying foreclosures — or even considering it — be sure to talk with a real estate agent first. The process of buying a foreclosed property is different from buying a “regular” home. You’ll want somebody experienced on your team.

April 19, 2012 Posted by | Housing Analysis | , , | Leave a comment

Single-Family Housing Starts Slip 0.2% In March

Housing Starts Tuesday, the government released its March 2012 New Residential Construction report. 

The report is made up of three sections, each related to a phase of the “new home” market. The report’s first part is Building Permits; the second is Housing Starts; the third is Housing Completions.

Of the three sections, it’s Housing Starts that gets the most attention from the press — mostly because, of the triad, it’s the simplest for a layperson to understand. However, the manner in which Housing Starts data is reported can be misleading.

Today’s newspapers offer up an excellent example.

According to the Census Bureau, total Housing Starts fell by 6% in March as compared to the month prior. 654,000 units were started on a seasonally-adjusted annualized basis.

For Housing Starts, it’s the lowest reading in 5 months, a statistic suggesting that the housing market may have lost some momentum. Much of the press covered the story from a “housing is slowing” angle.

A few published headlines include : 

Although these headlines are accurate, they tell just half of the story.

Housing Starts did drop in March, but if we remove a subset of the data — structures with “5 or more units”; a grouping that includes condominiums and apartment buildings — we’re left with Housing Starts for single-family residences only. It’s this data that matters most to buyers in Scottsdale and nationwide. 

Few home buyers buy entire apartment buildings. Most buy single-family homes. 

In March, single-family Housing Starts were down 0.2% from the month prior, or just 1,000 units on a seasonally-adjusted, annualized basis.

That’s hardly a drop at all.

April 18, 2012 Posted by | Housing Analysis | , , | Leave a comment